Having It All

November 18th, 2013 by Andrea Bennett

When it comes to defining success, are traditional gender divisions becoming less clear?

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

A new survey suggests that men’s consideration of marriage and relationships as key factors of success has eclipsed women’s. According to the Professional Women Report, a study conducted by City and LinkedIn, 9 percent of women say that marriage and relationships do not factor into their consideration of success – up from 5 percent last year.

For the first time in its three-year history, the report, which explores women’s career and financial concerns, also surveyed men for their opinions on the topics. As it turned out, 79 percent of men in the survey equated “having it all” with being in a “strong, loving marriage,” while only 66 percent of women reported feeling that way. And when it comes to having children, 86 percent of men factored kids into their definition of success, as opposed to 73 percent of women.

The results, The Atlantic’s Zach Schonfeld asserts, indicate that men have a simpler and more specific definition of success. Schonfeld wonders if the results are also affected by the fact that women are feeling pressured to close the ambition gap. He writes, “Since the Professional Women Report began, [Sheryl] Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ has sold in the hundreds of thousands and popular media has been flooded with trend pieces about just what happens when women do leave the workforce and choose motherhood over career, at least temporarily.”

And as New York Magazine points out, “Lean In” isn’t the only book “in the canon of ‘having it all’” that could be driving women’s mindsets in this new direction. On the other side, Barnard College president Debora Spar’s book “Wonder Women” argues that “the triumphs of second-wave feminists have created a new problem for women: the obsessive, oppressive pursuit of perfection.” Women are expected to do everything, Spar claims, including fulfilling the traditional gender expectations like childcare and housework, which haven’t shifted despite greater professional expectations.

From your perspective, do the women in your life care more about their careers than they did, even in recent years? Are women really more concerned with “having it all” than men? Weigh in here.